|Abstract or Summary
- Watershed management is widely recognized as an important component of healthy
ecosystems and its success depends on cultivating the good will, stewardship values, and
participation of citizens. Because much of the streamside land in Oregon is in private
ownership activities on public lands will not be enough to protect salmon and restore water
quality. Improvements will also depend upon conservation activities by private landowners
and communities. Since citizens are an integral part of long-term solutions, understanding
the level of knowledge people possess and their opinions about watershed management is
This study examines citizen knowledge and opinions about stream management and
ecology of the Lower South Santiam River, Crabtree Creek, and Thomas Creek watersheds
in the South Santiam River basin. It focuses on the usefulness of various sources of
information, public trust in specific information providers, citizens' understanding of
watershed ecology, and the problems, preferences and concerns of private landowners. A
mail questionnaire and interviews were used to elicit responses from community residents
and members of the South Santiam Watershed Council.
Several conclusions emerge from the findings. First, most respondents claim to be
interested in and concerned about watershed management issues, however, few are well
informed about the technical or scientific aspects of watershed ecology and management.
Second, respondents indicated they currently receive little useful information about
watershed issues, but there are relatively high levels of trust in several information providers.
This suggests that an increase or refocus of outreach efforts may be successful in raising
citizen awareness and knowledge of watershed issues. Third, most respondents agree that
good watershed management is beneficial to both humans and the environment, but are also
strongly opposed to various forms of government intervention. Fourth, watershed council
members are more knowledgeable about watershed issues and more supportive of
conservation and environmental protection. They are also less likely to see government
agencies and current policies as problems. These data can assist watershed management
agencies and organizations better understand the knowledge, preferences, and concerns of
the public. They can also provide a basis for developing ecologically sound and socially
acceptable solutions to watershed problems.